Celtics

Celtics have been on rebound – literally – since losing first two

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Celtics have been on rebound – literally – since losing first two

BOSTON – This run that the Boston Celtics have been on has been nothing short of amazing for so many reasons.
 
For starters, no one saw this coming, not even the most die-hard Celtics fan.
 
It appeared to be even less of a possibility after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury which is expected to keep him out of action for the rest of the season.
 
After dropping the season opener when Hayward got hurt and the game against Milwaukee the following night, Boston has since found its groove and has been on the rebound – literally – ever since.

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Boston’s work on the boards has been yet another surprise for a Celtics team that for years has been among the league’s worst rebounding clubs.
 
The Celtics have finished among the bottom-10 in rebounding percentage each of the last three seasons, a trend Boston seems poised to end after what has been a strong start on the boards.
 
Boston has out-scored and out-rebounded each of its last seven opponents. They have only had one streak longer than that in the last 30 years, and that was when they did it 11 straight games in December of 2008.
 
But as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night, several factors will come into play as Boston (9-2) tries to extend its league-best winning streak to 10 in a row.
 
Among those factors?
 
Rebounding, of course.
 
To say that Boston has done a better on the glass doesn’t do justice to how impressive their work around the rim has been this season.
 
Rebounding percentage is far more telling about how good a team is on the glass, than just about any other rebounding-related statistic.
 
Boston has a rebounding percentage of .533 which trails only Portland (.534).

As you delve deeper into those rebounding numbers, you quickly find one of the primary sources to the team’s top-ranked defense is their defensive rebounding percentage.
 
The Celtics rank 4th in the league in this category with a .814 percentage and by the 47.5 rebounds per game that Boston snatches, that ranks as the fifth-highest average.
 
No matter how you crunch the numbers, it adds to a Celtics team that has been an absolute beast on the boards this season – something that seemed highly unlikely considering the team didn’t add a player known to be a significant rebounder.
 
Boston’s success on the glass stems from the fact that they have significantly more length in the lineup which helps them defensively and when it comes to rebounding.
 
Jaylen Brown is 6-foot-7 playing the shooting guard position that was handled by 6-2 Avery Bradley.  At the point, Kyrie Irving is 6-3 and he has replaced a fellow all-star, 5-9 Isaiah Thomas. The defensive void left by Jae Crowder and his muscular 6-6 frame at small forward has been filled by 6-8 Jayson Tatum who also has a 7-0 wingspan. And when 6-10 Aron Baynes starts, he provides significantly more muscle at center than Amir Johnson did last season and his ability to contest shots by way of the rule of verticality, helps himself as well as his teammates swoop in and grab a large share of rebounds.
 
Just about every starter in the Celtics’ lineup now has better length than their predecessor which has made defense and rebounding more manageable for Boston.
 
And maybe more important, provided the Celtics with just what they have needed in order to continue building off the success of last season’s squad by creating a club with a different identity, an identity that’s heavily rooted in strong work on the boards.

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If Michael Porter Jr. falls in the NBA Draft, the Celtics should consider trading up for him

If Michael Porter Jr. falls in the NBA Draft, the Celtics should consider trading up for him

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA draft, it’s not unusual for a player pegged as a can’t-miss prospect to inexplicably dip on the eve of the draft.

One of the great examples of this was Paul Pierce, considered by most coming out of Kansas as a top-5 talent in 1998 who was on the board when it was time for the Celtics to select at No. 10.

Boston picked Pierce who went on to have a Hall of a Fame-worthy career that includes an NBA title in 2008 and his jersey number 34 being retired by the franchise.

In conversations with multiple league executives and scouts, the player they view as most likely to take a slight draft-night tumble is Michael Porter Jr. who missed most of his freshman season with Missouri after lower back surgery.

Porter Jr. won’t be considered a draft-day tumble unless he’s around when the New York Knicks are on the clock at No. 9.

The Knicks have had a (not so) quiet bromance for Terry Rozier III even before he blew up in the postseason. Marcus Smart, a restricted free agent, is on their radar as a potential target this summer as well.

Putting together a package involving Rozier would make re-signing Smart a more sensible move for the Celtics. And if Rozier became the central trade piece in acquiring the 6-11 Porter Jr., that too would make a lot of sense for the Celtics going forward in their quest to build a roster that has the kind of high-quality, position-less versatility needed to compete and potentially defeat the Golden State Warriors in both the short- and long-term.

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Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. — Marcus Smart, less than two weeks away from becoming a restricted free agent, remains cautiously optimistic that he will be back with the Celtics this season.

“I do,” he said at his basketball camp held on the campus of Brandeis University. “I haven’t put too much thought into this off-season, the free agency thing.

He added, “my number one focus is on my family now. I have a lot of stuff going.”

Specifically, Smart’s mother Camellia Smart is battling cancer.

Smart, who has spent a good chunk of the offseason with her in Texas, said her health has been his number one priority this summer.

“Right now, she needs all the positive thinking we can give her,” said Smart who added that she has three kidney stones and has lost the ability to walk due to chemotherapy treatments. 

While basketball is certainly an afterthought for Smart at this time, both he and the Celtics will have to make some tough decisions soon. As a restricted free agent, the Celtics can match any offer he receives. 

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A number of teams, including the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns are doing their homework on Smart to determine 1) If they want to make an offer to him and 2) what’s a number they can put out there that would dissuade the Celtics from matching.”

Smart, selected by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been a mainstay in the Celtics rotation from the moment he joined the team.

Despite often being criticized for his poor shooting, Smart averaged 9.4 points per game throughout his career as a Celtic, appearing in 251 regular season games.

His impact most nights lies at the defensive end of the floor where he has emerged as one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

And while most think of good perimeter defense as contesting shots, Smart has shown you can be a difference-maker defensively by being in the right position at the right time as well.

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After rallying back from a 26-point deficit to beat Houston earlier this season, Smart drew a pair of offensive fouls on inbounds plays against James Harden in the closing moments to help secure the win.

And there have been countless dives on the floor for loose balls, deflections, rebounds and of course forcing turnovers, that have made Smart a player that has tremendous value in the eyes of the Celtics.

But in terms of dollars and cents, how much is Smart really worth to the Boston?

There are several teams in the NBA  such as the New York Knicks and Detroit Piston s, that are making calls inquiring about Smart to determine if they will make an offer to the restricted free agent-to-be next month.

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